Monday, January 19, 2004

Reflections: The Word "Stoked"

Among many terms the surfers use, I really like the word "Stoked." I like it so much that I use it like a product name in my own surfing web site and its message board. For example, instead of saying "Surfing Log", I use "StokeLog, "and instead of "Surf Forecast," I use "StokeCAST" etc.

When I was a graduate student, there was a popular TV show Cosmos by Carl Sagan, and he popularized the phrase "Billions and billions of..." and I have heard from a colleague of mine at the school that someone wrote in a comment to the PBS suggesting Dr. Sagan from not saying that so much, and there was a response from the doctor himself explaining precisely why he uses this. He was clearly and carefully saying this.

Of course, I am not in the same league as he is in anything I do, but when I use the term "Stoke" I am rather careful and deliberate about it, and so I am writing about it.

According to the Webster dictionary, the word "Stoked" is defined as;

Main Entry: stoked
Pronunciation: 'stOkt
Function: adjective
Date: 1965
slang : being in an enthusiastic or exhilarated state

While this is a slang word, I think that there are not very many other words that describes the state of being "Stoked," yet I also feel that this word is something so essential to everything in life. For example, my wife's mom is stoked about her patch (Quilting) work. If said that to most surfers most people will get it what it means. The feeling to me is not just plain enthusiastic or exhilarated, and it is not necessarily being "happy" while you are being stoked.

One of the things I like to do a lot is to observe other surfers. Surfers come in all ages and shapes but one word unit them all.

One of the things that I noticed earlier on is that some people are extremely cranky or at least cranky looking when they are surfing. I used to think that why they want to continue surfing when they look so angry. But later on I realized that they are extremely stoked about surfing, almost like they are in a sword battle of sorts. Somehow "being in an enthusiastic or exhilarated" do not fit in this description. Stoked people can be really really serious, and my wife's mom can be extremely cranky when she is at a sewing machine commenting about some imperfections in the machine, stitches or whatever, but immensely focused and enjoying the activity.

It is definitely not in a sad state.

Back to surfing, I think that the movie series "The Endless Summer" and especially "The Endless Summer II", the director Bruce Brown has refined the stoked part of the story where surfers around the word are united with the feel of the stoke involving, and that continues to the latest "Step Into Liquid" Interestingly enough Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun Times Review was not so stoked. But then I was not so stoked about the latest movie "The Cooler" where he gave much higher rating.

So, "Stoked" to me, is in a very focused state, almost meditative to accomplish something and the expression of it in a performance. It drives my mother in law to create beautiful quilts, drive Tiger Woods to be one of the best golfers around, and some people to strive to open "the best restaurant."

So it is the word that unite us all.

I am certainly stoked about using this word!

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